John Bunyan's Text: Part Three
In 1649 King Charles I was executed, and Oliver Cromwell ruled England for eleven years. The Restoration came in 1660 when Charles II mounted the throne of England. The return of the monarchy signaled trouble for all Puritans, and in November, 1660, John Bunyan was put in jail. He was not a man to give up his stand for Christ just to avoid going to jail. Now there are times when the lines are so closely drawn that if we are going to stand for anything, it is going to cost us something. The great tragedy of our generation is that so few people have convictions: and even worse is the tragedy that those who have convictions will not stand for them. Jesus said, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you."
In the first chapter of Pilgrim's Progress, we meet the principal character, Pilgrim, "clothed with rags, a book in his hand, and a great burden upon his back.... He was greatly distressed in his mind and burst out, `What shall I do to be saved?"' When Pilgrim asks Evangelist the way of escape, Evangelist says, "Do you see yonder shining light?"
"I think I do," says wretched Pilgrim.
"Then keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto: so shalt thou see the gate; at which when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do."
And Pilgrim in due course did come to the gate and knock, saying: "May I now enter here? Will He within open to sorry me, though I have been an undeserving rebel? Then shall I not fail to sing His lasting praise on high."
Goodwill opens the gate, and says, "I am willing with all my heart. We make no objections against any notwithstanding all that they have done before they come hither; they are in no wise cast out."
Here at the very beginning of Christian's new life, stands the first unmistakable mention of John Bunyan's text; "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."
In his autobiography, Bunyan said, "'In no wise cast out!' Oh, the comfort I found in that word! `In no wise cast out!' This Scripture did most sweetly visit my soul." Did you ever have your soul visited? Do you know what it is to have hope in place of despair? Do you ever feel, "Oh, I must go to a psychiatrist and find out what is wrong with me!" and then learn that you can go to Christ and find out what can be right with you? Have you ever given up your burden in order to receive His joy? Do you know what it is to have your life turned around because some word in the Bible did sweetly visit your soul? And Bunyan now writes, "Oh, what did I then see in this blessed sixth of John!"
What did he see in that sixth chapter? What comfort did he find so lavishly stored there? The matter is worth investigating. Bunyan found three things in John 6:37.
First, he found the approachability of Christ. Now, if Jesus Christ came to Palestine today, you could not get a booking for six months. The ocean liners would be filled to capacity; every airplane reservation would be taken. Everyone would want to go to see Jesus Christ. But when Jesus went away, He sent the Holy Spirit, who can bring Christ right into your home. You don't have to phone a travel agency or an airline and ask, "Can I get a ticket to Palestine?" Jesus is nearer to you than breathing, closer than hands or feet. "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Even the vilest can easily go to the fountain of grace and find all that is needed, in the approachable Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, there is in this text the universality of Jesus. In his earlier life, Bunyan always thought that Christ would receive some more fortunate person than himself. There was a man whom people called "Holy Master Gifford." One day Bunyan heard Holy Master Gifford and some women discussing the things of the Kingdom of God, as they sat in front of their doors. Bunyan clearly believed in the salvation of these people, but he felt that he himself was forever excluded from the happiness and peace which they enjoyed.
"About this time," he says, "the happiness of these people at Bedford was a kind of vision to me. I saw on the sunny side of some mountains they were refreshing themselves in the pleasant beams of the sun while I was shivering and sinking in the cold, afflicted with frost and snow and dark clouds. Me thought also, betwixt me and then I saw a wall that did compass about this mountain. Now through this wall my soul did so greatly desire to pass, concluding that if I could I would there also comfort myself with the heat of their sun, but I could find no way through or around or over the wall."
And then Bunyan discovered the text, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." "But Satan," he said, "would greatly labor to pull this promise from me, telling me that Christ did not love me, or such as me, but sinners of another rank that had not done as I had done. But I would answer him again, `Him that cometh to me,' him, any him, with no exception, `him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."' So the walls around Bunyan's mountains fell with a crash before that great and golden verse. The barriers were down, the way was open to anyone. This is the universality of Jesus. It doesn't make any difference what your past has been. Jesus says to you, "I will in no wise cast you out." Be not afraid to lift your eyes to Jesus Christ. He is approachable; He is universal; He is for you.
The final thing that Bunyan saw in this text was the reliability of Christ. How wonderful to know that you can deposit your money in a Bank that cannot fail, to know that you can invest in a Stock that cannot go down, to know that you can build upon a Rock that cannot be shaken! In Christ you have reliability.
- Can you think of a time that the word of God brought you out of a hard time in your life?
- How can the truth that Christ is trustworthy and faithful change how you live today?
- How does Christ call us to himself?
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